Fundraiser features holiday cards by young cancer patients - East Valley Tribune: Health

Fundraiser features holiday cards by young cancer patients

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Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012 7:45 am | Updated: 3:26 pm, Mon Dec 3, 2012.

A major fundraiser to support cancer research and programs for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital is continuing to build on its holiday tradition.

The 26th annual Card Project, in which the center sells cards designed by young cancer patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital that have included work from East Valley artists throughout the years, is underway. Cards are available for purchase at the hospital gift shop, Safeway grocery stores across the Valley and online at www.pchkidsart.com.

Among this year’s young artists are: Rosie Garcia, 21, of Mesa, who drew "Dove in Stained Glass"; Elizabeth Blair, 6, of Phoenix, who drew "Rainbow Star"; Emma Lee, 7, of Scottsdale, who drew "Midnight Snowman"; Jutona Vanverdier, 9, of Red Rock, who drew "North Pole Penguin"; and Kamee Weeks, 7, of Phoenix who drew "Heart Angel."

Garcia marks her second year as a holiday card artist.

Garcia, the daughter of Jackie and Robert Garcia of Mesa, walks with the help of a cane and has full use of just one hand. She suffers from a brain tumor which has required extensive treatment.

"It’s a privilege and an honor," Rosie Garcia said of her work appearing on the Christmas cards and being sold in stores.

"There’s really no words to describe it," she added.

She says she is going to mail them to her family and friends.

"They’re wonderful Christmas cards," Garcia said.

"Everybody I know, I’ll be sending them to," she said. "I just love the holiday season. Doing the cards if a way for me to relax and enjoy myself."

Garcia was among four patients present at Ironwood Lithographics in Tempe to see the cards roll fresh off the press in August.

At home, Garcia has a lot of pets — dogs, cats, fish and two doves, named Cloud and Sun. She rendered a combination of her two doves on the "Dove in Stained Glass" Christmas card.

"I have birds at home," Garcia said as she saw her cards rolling off the press in August. "I was thinking of the white dove that means peace in the world and a stained glass window of a church for a background."

Garcia, who attended Mesa High School and also volunteers at the hospital, said that drawing helps her with her therapy. The "Dove in Stained Glass" is the third Christmas card she has drawn since being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005. In the past, Garcia has drawn Christmas cards such as cookies and a reindeer and a snowman.

The Art Project was created not only to help support the center through the funds it raises, but also to involve children in arts-and-crafts projects that help them cope with stress. Each year, Phoenix Children’s Hospital holds dozens of art workshops with the help of local artists to show patients different forms of art and how to use their imaginations to help them keep their minds off their illnesses.

In August, Ironwood Lithographics in Tempe, which donates the labor and the printing for the cards kicked off its first press run of about 200,000 cards. The Holiday Art Project is the center’s largest fundraiser and has raised more than $5 million since its inception, according to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The cards are sold in packages of 15 for $10 and are available for corporate sponsorships. For a $1000 donation to the hospital’s foundation, the cards can be a company’s official Christmas card.

The center is the largest provider of hematology and oncology care in Arizona and offers state-of-the-art pediatric cancer management to almost half of the children diagnosed with malignancies or life-threatening blood diseases. Through individual and corporate contributions, the center is able to provide new research options, education, financial assistance and psychosocial support for the patients and their families.

"The money raised through the Holiday Art Project dramatically impacts the survival rate for children with cancer," Dr. Michael Etzl Jr., division chief of the center, said in a statement issued by the hospital. "Seventy-five percent of all children with cancer here at Phoenix Children’s are cured of the disease."

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